Family OchnaceaeAll species of Ochna have very attractive yellow flowers, with an unusual persistent calyx that enlarges when in fruit, becoming cream-coloured, pink or bright red. The fruits are also colourful with black drupelets sitting on a bright red, open receptacle, surrounded by the sepals of the calyx. Species of Ochna such as O. serrulata; O. pulchra and O. pretoriensis are excellent garden plants that will make your garden look magnificent. An evergreen shrub to medium-sized tree, up to 12 m high.
The genus Ochna comprises shrublets, shrubs and trees that are usually hairless. The growing tips of the stems are conical and sometimes have overlapping bracts. The leaves are simple, in an alternate or spiral arrangement and the midrib is ridged above and below. There are numerous lateral veins that are parallel, closely spaced and visible above. The margins are usually dentate, with entire stipules or with a fringed margin, or 2-lobed but not so deeply. The flowers are bisexual with floral parts in fives, in solitary or in terminal inflorescences or panicles, often with short, lateral branchlets. The sepals of the calyx are persistent, becoming enlarged, cream-coloured or pink to bright red and petal-like. There are 5–10 petals which are larger than the sepals, but they fall very early after opening. There are many free stamens, about 12 or more with filaments partly persistent. The ovary consists of 1–8 distinct carpels, developing on the swollen red receptacle. The fruits of Ochna are fleshy drupelets with a thin outer layer or coat. They are narrowly ovoid, almost spherical or kidney-shaped and coloured, attached to the base of the receptacle and surrounded by petal-like sepals.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Ochna was named by Linnaeus in 1753 and is derived from the Greek word, ochne, which refers to the wild pear, alluding to the leaves that resemble those of the wild pear.
With such attractive flowers in all species of Ochna, bees and butterflies are favourite companions of these plants. During the flowering season a chorus of melodies is heard as bees visit to draw out nectar. The art of colour exhibition is also witnessed as butterflies glorify the season. These insects assist in pollination of Ochna species. Some bird species find the ripe fruit palatable.